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Ravi has already suffered enough: Parents

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 12:46

New York: The distraught parents of Dharun Ravi, sentenced for a month in prison for spying on his gay roommate, said he has suffered "enough" while the mother of his roommate who committed suicide said her family has never heard an apology from the Indian-origin young man.

Ravi, 20, was sentenced on Monday in a New Brunswick court by Judge Glenn Berman in Superior Court in Middlesex County.

In addition to 30 days in jail, set to begin May 31, Berman also sentenced Ravi to three years of probation, 300 hours of community service, and counseling regarding cyber bullying and alternative lifestyles.

Ravi must also pay a USD 10,000 fine, which will go to a facility dedicated to victims of bias crimes.

"I heard this jury say guilty 288 times, 24 questions, 12 jurors, that`s the multiplication," the judge told Ravi, referring to the questionnaire jurors filled out in arriving at the verdict.

"And I haven`t heard you apologise once".

"I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi," the judge told a courtroom packed with supporters of Ravi as well as with the Clementi family.

"I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity".

During the sentencing hearing, Ravi`s father Ravi Pazhani said for the past 20 months "we have witnessed several chapters of vengeful, malicious, selective prosecution filled with lies and injustice".

He urged the judge to "show heart" in the sentencing to "make sure the last chapter is all about truth, justice and preserve the sanctity of American judicial system which is widely believed to be the best in the world".

Pazhani said his son was convicted of bias intimidation under a "muddled law".

"Every coin has two sides and so does this story. In this case, until the trial, no one cared about the more truthful side of this story because it was not sensational, doesn`t help media ratings, doesn`t give any political mileage and doesn`t help advance lobby group`s agenda.

"Even it meant going against the constitution and denying Dharun the fundamental constitutional right, `presumption of innocence`," he said in court.

Ravi`s father urged the judge to consider the fact that Dharun was 18 years old when the incident happened and was "not a fully grown adult" at that time.

"He has been living in self-exile for past 20 months. Since then he seldom leaves the house for any social activity and completely withdrawn from his friends. As a 20 year old how much more is he expected to endure," he said.

He added that "contrary to the false propaganda," they are not homophobic family and "Dharun was not raised to hate Gays".

"He didn`t grow up in such an environment. We live in a diverse community".

Ravi`s mother Sabitha who also made a statement at the sentencing, said from the end of September 2010 to this day, "what my son Dharun is going through, there are no words for me to explain".

"The smile and his bright eyes are all gone from his face. When it all started and the media was ripping him apart with their misleading facts and the wrongful statements of prominent people, he was absolutely devastated and broken into pieces.

The media misconstrued the facts to the public and misconceptions were formed about Dharun and his character. I was watching him helplessly and all I could do is hug him and cry.
I didn`t have any power to stop all of this and save my son and prove to the world what a kind-hearted and loving person he is. He doesn`t have hatred toward anybody".

Terming the media`s influence in the case as "devastating", Sabitha said Dharun has suffered enough the past two years.

"My 20-year-old son already has too much burden on his shoulders to face the rest of his life. I strongly believe the honorable judge will give him a chance to try his best to lead a normal life".

As his mother broke down while making the statement in court, Ravi himself began crying, the first time since the beginning of the trial that he had publicly shown more than a glimpse of emotion.

Bruce Kaplan, the Middlesex County prosecutor, issued a statement after the sentencing, saying that while his office had not requested the maximum prison term, "it was expected that his conviction on multiple offenses of invading the privacy of two victims on two separate occasions, four counts of bias intimidation against Tyler Clementi, and the cover-up of those crimes would warrant more than a 30-day jail term".

Ravi`s roommate Clementi committed suicide in September 2010, two days after discovering that Ravi had spied on his sexual encounetr with a another man in their room at Rutgers.

Ravi had faced up to 10 years in prison after a jury convicted him of all 15 counts against him, which included bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and tampering with a witness and evidence.
Prosecutors vowed to appeal as the sentence came as a surprise to many.

Clementi`s mother, father and brother spoke before the judge delivered his decision, breaking down occasionally as they recalled his accomplishment and his promise, and the pain of losing him and of reliving the agony of his final days as they endured three weeks of courtroom testimony.

"I cannot imagine the level of rejection, isolation and disdain he must have felt from his peers," Tyler`s brother James Clementi said.

"Dharun never bothered to care about the harm he was doing to my brother`s heart and mind. My family has never heard an apology, an acknowledgment of any wrongdoing".

His mother, Jane Clementi, also criticised students who knew about the spying from Ravi`s Twitter feeds.
"How could they all go along with such meanness?" she said.

"Why didn`t any one of them speak up and try to stop it?" Judge Berman said he wanted to impose a sentence that was "constructive" and would provide a measure of closure? "though I don`t know how the Clementis will ever get closure".

He said he imposed the jail time for witness and evidence tampering and for lying to the police.
But for the bias intimidation convictions, he gave Ravi three years` probation.

PTI

First Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 12:46
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